Testicular Cancer: Your Chances for Recovery (Prognosis)
What is a prognosis?
Prognosis is the word your healthcare team may use to describe your likely outcome
from cancer and cancer treatment. A prognosis is a calculated guess. It’s a question
many people have when they learn they have cancer.
Making a choice
The decision to ask about your prognosis is a personal one. It’s up to you to decide
how much you want to know. Some people find it easier to cope and plan ahead when
they know their prognosis and the statistics for how well a treatment might work.
Other people find statistics confusing and frightening. Or they might think statistics
are too general to be useful.
A doctor who is most familiar with your health is in the best position to discuss
your prognosis with you and explain what the statistics may mean in your case. At
the same time, you should keep in mind that your prognosis can change. Cancer and
cancer treatment outcomes are hard to predict. For instance, a favorable prognosis
(which means you’re likely going to do well) can change if the cancer spreads to key
organs or doesn’t respond to treatment. An unfavorable prognosis can change, too.
This can happen if treatment shrinks and controls the cancer so it doesn’t grow or
What goes into a prognosis
When figuring out your prognosis, your doctor will consider all the things that could
affect the cancer and its treatment. Your doctor will look at risk estimates about
the exact type and stage of the cancer you have. These estimates are based on what
results researchers have seen over many years in other people with the same type and
stage of cancer.
If your cancer is likely to respond well to treatment, your doctor will say you have
a favorable prognosis. This means you’re expected to live many years and may even
be cured. If your cancer is likely to be hard to control, your prognosis may be less
favorable. The cancer may shorten your life. It’s important to keep in mind that a
prognosis states what’s likely or probable. It is not a prediction of what will definitely
happen. No doctor can be fully certain about an outcome.
Your prognosis depends mainly on:
Understanding survival rates
Survival rates show what portion of people live for a certain length of time after
being told they have cancer. The rates are grouped for people with certain types and
stages of cancer. Many times, the numbers used refer to the 5-year or the 10-year
survival rate. That’s how many people are living 5 years or 10 years after diagnosis.
The survival rate includes:
What are the survival rates for testicular cancer?
Here are the 5-year survival rates for testicular cancer, according to the National
Cancer Institute. These include all types of testicular cancer. The outlook for some
types might be better than others.
Overall, the 5-year survival rate for testicular cancer is about 95%.
For men whose cancer is found before it has spread to lymph nodes or other organs,
the 5-year survival rate is about 99%.
The 5-year survival rate for testicular cancer that has reached nearby organs or lymph
nodes is about 96%.
Once testicular cancer has spread to distant organs, the 5-year survival rate is about
These numbers are adjusted to account for the fact that some people with testicular
cancer may die from other causes.
Talk with your healthcare provider
You can ask your healthcare provider about survival rates and what you might expect.
But remember that statistics are based on large groups of people. They cannot be used
to say what will happen to you. No two people are exactly alike. Treatment and how
well cancer responds to treatment vary.